Animated Book Covers?

Discussion in 'Writing' started by Window Bar, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. Window Bar

    Window Bar We Read for Light

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    Just this morning, I was looking at some of the graphics in the online portfolio of our own Virangelus, aka A.Lynn Ferguson. Of her several projects, a one- or two-second animated fleet of spaceships got me thinking: Do any of the current e-book publishers/vendors allow animated covers?

    Sure, I realize that such work can be used on blogs or ads... but is anyone aware of how to make the animation part of the first-impression identity of the book? The actual cover of the book?

    (By the way Virangelus/Lynn, you're doing some wonderful work. To me, the most valuable aspect of this forum is the cross-fertilization of minds and talents.)

    --WB
     
  2. Laer Carroll

    Laer Carroll LaerCarroll.com

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    You won't see animated book covers on the Amazon or Barnes & Noble sites. They allow only JPEGs with certain size limits.

    However, customers can add images to the Web page underneath the main image. These must be JPEGs, GIFs, and PNGs. The latter two can be animated files. Max file size is MBs.

    Publishers can submit Shockwave Flash videos to individual book Web pages. Again, there are size limits. Here is an example on Sophie Jordan's "Firelight" page.

    http://www.amazon.com/Firelight-Sophie-Jordan/dp/0061935085

    As with any tool or technique, these moving images can be done well, ill, or in between. Good ones must have excellent video, soundtrack, AND dialogue. Mediocre or poor ones may hurt your chances of making a sale. And it takes a lot of expertise and creative brilliance to create good ones.
     
  3. JRMurdock

    JRMurdock Where have I been?

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    Some ebook versions will allow a .gif image for the book's cover. J.A. Konrath was one of the first to give an animated cover a try. The books he sells from his own website may have them.

    For me, I find them as annoying as the <blink> tag. But they're out there now and I don't see any reason to stop people from using them.
     
  4. jeff p

    jeff p Registered User

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    I could easily envision animation within cover designs. (eventually)

    It's actually not that difficult, just a small amount of movement to stand apart.. if done well.

    The first authors to include this would benefit... but an entire page of animated gifs could become annoying very quick.

    Still, creating a stunning visual is costly enough, having to compete with animation could raise the stakes even higher.
     
  5. Laer Carroll

    Laer Carroll LaerCarroll.com

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    Ebooks can also have animated graphics in their interiors. They are called enhanced or multimedia ebooks.

    Ebooks formatted for the Kindle are limited by the subset of HTML which Amazon allows. They are also limited by the Kindle model. The sound and video capabilities of the BW Kindles are fairly limited. The Fire allows color images and has better audio, though it's still far from hi-fi.

    Barnes & Noble and Apple use the EPUB format, but each also imposes limits on exactly what EPUB features are allowed. They also impose size limits on the ebook file.

    Enhanced ebooks are a wave of the future, but don't expect enormous leaps forward in the number of such ebooks. They all require a good deal of technical expertise to create, though the tools for creating them are improving.

    A bigger bottleneck is the time the creators have to create the books. Making even a small simple video can take an enormous amount of time.

    But the biggest bottleneck is the creativity the creator (or team of creators). An ebook (or movie or printed book) can be enormously proficient technically but be dramatically lifeless and dull.
     
  6. N. E. White

    N. E. White It could be worse. ~tmso Staff Member

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    I'm sorry, but if you all animate your covers, I will have to disown you all. :D

    Joke! Sort of.

    I can't imagine a more annoying thing. You know all those reviews on GoodReads with all those animated GIFs? Well, they are funny, but very very distracting.

    I suppose it is the wave of the future, and I'll get smothered and rammed into a bright and new shiny shore with 'em, but I'll fight it ALL THE WAY. ;)
     
  7. A. Lynn

    A. Lynn Was: "Virangelus"

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    Oh my Window/Zachariah, you've got me turning bright red at work here :eek: ! I appreciate the compliments, they really mean a lot to a freelancer and student such as myself!

    But after perusing the answers to this thread, I have to agree. There is something that just screams "I'm a MySpace teenaged-girl that knows how to add glowing letters! YAY!" about animated book covers. I think majority of the world would abuse this feature.

    That being said, I can also see that there is great potential here. But animation in marketing should call for subtlety. An example of subtlety could be included in your very own cover, Window, for the Cyclops book. I think it would be in good taste to feature that eyeball blinking, but only every now and then. I would want it to trigger a "made you look" effect. I would want it to be so off the wall people go "huh... am I imagining things?" That would be a good example of marketing via animated cover without it going overboard.

    Here are my thoughts coming in from both an Advertising Graphics and Design view, as well as an Animation view. My sources are cited from two very fantastic professors in their field and a great book.

    • Animation is indeed complex, and quite expensive! (I should know, I'm enduring 3D Animation class as we speak). Characters that move must be kept simple due to time and budget constraints. Therefore, any animated covers you present would benefit from a "Minimalist" form.
    • On the flipside, 2D, flat images can allow for greater detail, and perhaps should have greater detail to help keep it interesting.
    • If you feel your world warrants great amounts of detail, and that your cover should bring your world to life with an exact detail, retain a 2D only image, no animation. Good details, action shot, great colors, etc.
    • Depending on how you want to represent your book, you may choose a minimalist cover like Neal Stephenson has done with "Read Me." A minimalist book like this can endure some simple animations.

    References: Don Seegmiller's "Digital Character Painting Using Photoshop CS3", as well as class lectures from Derek Fisher (3D Animation Professor) and Eddie Bakshi (2D Animator, and son of the famous Ralph Bakshi) via the Creative Media Institute, NMSU
     
  8. A. Lynn

    A. Lynn Was: "Virangelus"

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    "Keep it Simple Stupid" will never go out of style.
     
  9. PeteMC

    PeteMC @PeteMC666

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    Animated book covers?? Oh dear gods no... :eek:

    Mind you, I haven't got used to these new-fangled picture paper things that aren't leather yet....